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St Helens 18 Warrington 36: Match report

St Helens 18 Warrington 36: Wolves move one step closer to double after Waterhouse clinches win

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UPDATED:

21:18 GMT, 29 September 2012

Warrington are 80 minutes away from the elusive double after coming from 14-6 down to win their Super League play-off semi-final against St Helens at Langtree Park and secure a first Grand Final appearance.

Two tries in a three-minute spell midway through the second half from Australian forward Trent Waterhouse clinched victory for the Wolves, who will meet Leeds at Old Trafford next Saturday in a repeat of last month's Challenge Cup final which they won 35-18.

Warrington, who will become only the sixth club to contest the Grand Final, ran in four second-half tries to thwart Saints' bid for a seventh successive trip to Old Trafford and bring Mike Rush's reign as caretaker coach to a sorry end.

Job done: Trent Waterhouse scored two tries in three minutes to seal the win

Job done: Trent Waterhouse scored two tries in three minutes to seal the win

St Helens, the last team to do the double in 2006, dominated the first half and ought to have been further ahead than 14-12 at the break but they quickly ran out of steam when Warrington got their second wind in the second half.

The Wolves, who lost to Saints in the opening round of the play-offs, were boosted by the return of Man of Steel contender Ben Westwood for his first appearance since Wembley but it was his second row partner Waterhouse who stole the show.

The former Kangaroo international was a Grand Final winner in the NRL with Penrith Panthers back in 2003 and will fancy his chances of doing the double.

Yet Saints had looked the more dangerous side throughout the first half with right winger Tommy Makinson going close and left winger Francis Meli denied by a forward pass from Jon Wilkin and it was no surprise when they opening the scoring on 11 minutes.

Makinson had no right to score after taking Chris Flannery's pass with Chris Riley still to beat but he produced an acrobatic dive to get around his man and plant the ball over the line.

Thumbs up: Adrian Morley celebrates after the Wolves clinched the win

Thumbs up: Adrian Morley celebrates after the Wolves clinched the win

One more game: Wolves moved within 80 minutes away from winning the double

One more game: Wolves moved within 80 minutes away from winning the double

It was against the run of play that Warrington took the lead on 17 minutes, with Wilkin conceding possession with a knock-on 30 metres from his own line and Richie Myler combining with Brett Hodgson to get Riley over at the corner.

Hodgson's touchline conversion made it 6-4 but Saints remained unfazed and they looked to have seized control with two tries in a 10-minute spell.

Second rower Mark Flanagan took the ball to the Warrington line of defenders to suck in their defence and his long, looping pass gave Meli the space to cross at the corner.

The big Kiwi would have had a second try but for a last-ditch tackle from Hodgson but the Warrington full-back blotted his copybook shortly afterwards, spilling Wilkin's towering kick to present his opposite number Paul Wellens with the easiest of scores.

Makinson kicked his first conversion at the third attempt to make it 14-6 but Warrington scored what proved to be a crucial try two minutes before the interval when loose forward Simon Grix charged onto Lee Briers' pass.

Party time: Warrington Wolves ran out deserved winners in the end

Party time: Warrington Wolves ran out deserved winners in the end

The visitors were back in front eight minutes into the second half when right winger Joel Monaghan was first to Briers' high kick and, although he dropped the ball, it went backwards and he had the presence of mind to gather it back up and touch down.

Hodgson maintained his accuracy with his third goal to make it 18-14 and the Wolves produced some tremendous defence to keep their lead intact before hitting a purple patch in which they ran in three tries in seven minutes.

The impressive Waterhouse supported a break by centre Ryan Atkins to score his first before powering through a tiring defence for his second while Riley finished off a smart crossfield passing move to claim the visitors' sixth try.

Meli stopped the rot with a consolation try eight minutes from the end but Hodgson wrapped up the scoring with a penalty to take his goal tally to six from seven attempts.

Glenn Hoddle: How I"d love it if England passed the ball like Spain

How I'd love it if England passed the ball like Spain

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UPDATED:

22:32 GMT, 30 June 2012

Spain are 90 minutes away from making history – and some people say they are boring. They may not have hit the heights they did in winning Euro 2008 or the World Cup two years ago but I'd love England to pass the ball like them. To dominate possession, keep clean sheets and win trophies would be music to my ears.

Some of the criticism has been aimed at Spain because manager Vicente del Bosque has often started without a recognised striker, a tactic he is likely to use again in the final against Italy.

Pass masters: Spain are technically good from 1-11

Pass masters: Spain are technically good from 1-11

But that doesn't mean other teams are going to try the same. England's current team couldn't play like that, nor could any other side apart from Barcelona – not even Brazil.

Spain are the only international side that keep the ball well enough for it to work. They are able to build from the back, rarely hit passes longer than 15 yards and move up the pitch together. But all you need is one or two weak links, a player in the chain who isn't comfortable on the ball, and it breaks down.

Spain are technically good from 1-11 so their way of playing works. Having said all that, tonight's final is not a formality – far from it. Spain have not created the chances their possession deserved. They aren't like Barcelona, who regularly finish teams off with four or five goals. Italy will be a stern test for them.

Their coach, Cesare Prandelli, has been very astute in this tournament, switching formations from 3-5-2 to a midfield diamond. It's all based around Andrea Pirlo. A flat 4-4-2 wouldn't suit him, so Prandelli doesn't play it.

Key man: Andrea Pirlo can cause Spain problems

Key man: Andrea Pirlo can cause Spain problems

He uses a system where Pirlo can dictate and with forwards Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano always on the move, they can cause Spain problems. Pirlo is 33 but in one of those periods sportsmen have when their confidence is so high, they are almost invincible.

Heart and mind together. England and Germany tried to shackle him and failed. Spain won't even try – they will play their own game. It means Pirlo might have the space to hurt them, you just hope age won't catch up with him right at the end of the tournament after five tough matches already.

It's a very tough final to call. The amazing thing is Spain haven't been at their best yet and they are still favourites. Portugal pressed them high up the pitch at times in the semi-final and that is what Italy must do. Then, at other stages of the game, the team can retreat – what I call a basketball halfway press. I've never thought Spain were certainties to win Euro 2012, but having conceded just one goal so far (to Italy in their opening group game), I just favour them to win a unique hat-trick of titles. I, for one, won't find it boring at all.

Danny's goal was the best of Euro 2012

Eng land haven't come away from Euro 2012 empty-handed in my book. Despite the high-quality strikes on show in Poland and Ukraine, I think the goal of the tournament was scored by our own Danny Welbeck against Sweden.

Touch of class: Danny Welbecks fabulous flicked winner against Sweden

Touch of class: Danny Welbecks fabulous flicked winner against Sweden

The way he connected with Theo Walcott's cross with his back to goal was sublime. If a South American had guided the ball into the net through his legs like that, we'd be purring about it. And it was an important goal as well, the winner in an exciting 3-2 victory.

My player and manager of the tournament are Italians – Andrea Pirlo and Cesare Prandelli. We should give him an award just for dealing with Mario Balotelli so well.

My favourite game Germany's 4-2 win against Greece in the quarter-finals. At that stage, I thought my pre-tournament tip would go on to win it. But Pirlo, Prandelli and Balotelli rose to the occasion against them.

England will be watching on TV – and hurting

I hope the England players will find time to watch tonight's final – and I am sure they will, even though it will hurt them a lot having missed out themselves.

I remember going back to France after the 1998 World Cup to do some commentary work for ITV on the semi-final between Holland and Brazil. It was difficult, because our own exit was still so raw.

But 95 per cent of the England players will tune in from holiday or at home. I hope it whets their appetite to be in the final next time out.

New Zealand 60 Ireland 0: All Blacks smash record with nine tries

New Zealand 60 Ireland 0: All Blacks smash record with nine-try trouncing

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UPDATED:

09:54 GMT, 23 June 2012

Twenty five minutes of genius from fly-half Aaron Cruden ensured an All Blacks whitewash over a spent Irish team as the world champions ran up a record 60-0 victory at Waikato Stadium.

A brace of tries from Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Cane broke the back of Ireland's challenge with the match effectively over as New Zealand led 29-0 at half-time.

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Drubbing: New Zealand ran in nine tries in Hamilton

The home side started the livelier of the two sides with the offloading prowess of Williams providing an ever-present danger.

The All Blacks tested the Irish left to right as referee Roman Poite
overlooked a forward pass by Williams before Cruden's delightful flick
pass set up Cane for his first international try.

Cruden stepped up to add the extras despite the best efforts of Keith Earls to distract.

The Chiefs fly-half combined with his Super Rugby team-mate Williams again after only 12 minutes with a superb flick pass.

Sonny side up: Williams was in outstanding form

Sonny side up: Williams was in outstanding form

Sonny side up: Williams was in outstanding form

The centre bounced off Fergus McFadden and raced free to touch down with Cruden once again adding the extras.

Irish No 8 Peter O'Mahony was pulled up soon after for being offside at a ruck but Cruden's penalty was left and wide.

That was the only bright point of the opening 20 minutes as Cruden once again combined with Williams for a score.

Bad day at the office: O'Driscoll appeals against Kearney's sin-binning

Bad day at the office: O'Driscoll appeals against Kearney's sin-binning

The diminutive No 10 fed his inside centre, who stepped inside Paddy
Wallace and bounced through Dan Tuohy to dive over for his second.
Israel Dagg kicked the conversion.

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll then squandered position as Ireland made their first meaningful foray into the All Blacks half.

His team harried to get the ball back but when Wallace failed to find
O'Driscoll in midfield, Cruden raced free and tossed up a pass that Ben
Smith took at full gallop and touched down in the right corner. Dagg
missed the conversion as Cruden left the pitch for treatment.

Black wave: Ireland try in vain to halt another attack

Black wave: Ireland try in vain to halt another attack

Rob Kearney did well to hold onto an Earls pass at full pace before New Zealand were penalised for going off their feet.

With three points not enough to make a difference on the scoreboard,
Ireland went for the five-metre scrum but scrum-half Aaron Smith stole
possession and kicked clear.

Poite sent Kearney to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on as the All Blacks swarmed down the right flank.

Good hands: Cruden offloads to set up Williams' first try

Good hands: Cruden offloads to set up Williams' first try

Beauden Barrett, on for the injured Cruden, marked his debut with a penalty that made it 29-0 at half-time.

Four minutes into the second half Liam Messam burst through two tackles and fed the supporting Aaron Smith.

Joining the party: Sam Cane (above) and Israel Dagg (below) dive over for their tries

Joining the party: Sam Cane (above) and Israel Dagg (below) dive over for their tries

Joining the party: Sam Cane (above) and Israel Dagg (below) dive over for their tries

The scrum-half's offload bounced off Cane's chest but the flanker
gathered the looping ball and dived over under the posts. Barrett
chipped the conversion over.

Left wing Hosea Gear then scored the All Blacks' sixth try. He outpaced
McFadden and delivered a crunching forearm into Earls' face before
dragging the trailing McFadden over the tryline with him.

Barrett's conversion missed but Steve Hansen's men led 41-0 after just 51 minutes.

Five minutes later Cane fed a charging Messam who dived over.

Sour note: Ireland had performed well in the second Test

Sour note: Ireland had performed well in the second Test

Williams the took a pass on the halfway line and sized up his options
before releasing Dagg down the right with a perfectly judged grubber
kick.

The full-back evaded the chasing Earls and touched down, with Barrett landing the extras.

Replacement Adam Thomson raced clear for a try after great work from
Luke Romano and Barrett in a build-up that left Poite and half the Irish
team sprawling on the turf.

Barrett's successful kick made it 60-0 and left the tourists deflated at the whistle.

Salford 10 Leeds Rhinos 16

Salford 10 Leeds Rhinos 16: Rhinos' second half charge sees them through

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UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 29 April 2012

Last season's beaten finalists Leeds were given a fright by Salford before booking a place in the quarter-finals of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

The world champions were held 6-6 at the break but scraped through thanks to tries from Ben Jones-Bishop and Shaun Lunt in the second half.

The battling Reds had gone ahead with a Lee Jewitt try, cancelled out by Brent Webb just before the interval.

Drive: Ben Jones Bishop celebrates after scoring the second try for Leeds

Drive: Ben Jones Bishop celebrates after scoring the second try for Leeds

Leeds went into the clash having won all four of their cup ties against the Reds since 1964.

The Rhinos also had the psychological advantage of having thumped Salford 56-16 on their first visit to Barton in March, when skipper Kevin Sinfield became the record points scorer in the club's history.

Salford, who had lost six of their last eight games, were missing Aussie prop Shannon McPherson and Kiwi Vinnie Anderson.

Leeds kept the side which beat Catalan with Kallum Watkins, Rob Burrow, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Weller Hauraki still sidelined.

Salford, playing against a strong wind in the first half, stunned Leeds by taking a shock eighth-minute lead after a storming run by Jodie Broughton against his old club.

Jewitt took Wayne Godwin's pass to plough over from short range for his first try since scoring against Leeds last July, with Daniel Holdsworth booting the straightforward conversion.

The Rhinos recovered to pile the pressure on the Reds but squandered several chances.

Chris Clarkson was put through by Sinfield but tossed away a certain try by ignoring Webb in support.

Jones-Bishop went over but was recalled for a forward pass and then Zak Hardaker was denied a try from Danny McGuire's kick by a desperate Luke Patten clearance.

Carl Ablett then dropped the ball under pressure over the Reds line after slick handling by McGuire and Webb.

Salford were under the cosh with solid defence preventing Darrell Griffin barging over before the Reds line was finally breached four minutes before the break.

Lunt's grubber kick caught Salford off-guard and Webb was the quickest to react with Sinfield landing the conversion to make it 6-6.

Salford lost Chris Nero early in the second half with an arm injury but Ashley Gibson summed up their spirit with sterling defence.

The Reds regained the lead after 51 minutes when Broughton sprinted on to Holdsworth's well-placed kick for his fourth try of the season.

Holdsworth was just off-target with the touchline conversion but Leeds drew level 16 minutes from time.

Jamie Peacock did well to release the ball in a tackle and Sinfield's kick was fumbled by Broughton for Jones-Bishop to score a scrambled try.

Sinfield missed the conversion to stop his side going ahead for the first time.

Salford's relief was short-lived with McGuire's dancing run enabling Lunt to go over after 71 minutes and, this time, Sinfield made no mistake to fire his side in front 16-10.

The Reds refused to concede defeat and Sean Gleeson went close but Leeds held on.

Leon Britton thinks Brendan Rodgers will stay at Swansea

Britton convinced Swansea's Rodgers will not jump ship to Spurs

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UPDATED:

23:28 GMT, 31 March 2012

Leon Britton is convinced Brendan Rodgers is committed to Swansea and insists he did not need to ask the manager about his future before agreeing a new three-year contract at the Liberty Stadium.

Rodgers was linked with the Tottenham job last month when Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was tipped to replace Fabio Capello as England manager.

And those rumours surfaced again on Friday, just before Rodgers takes the Swans to White Hart Lane for Sunday's Barclays Premier League meeting between the two clubs.

Staying: Leon Britton has signed a new deal at the Liberty

Staying: Leon Britton has signed a new deal at the Liberty

Rodgers signed a new three-and-a-half year contract with the south Wales club at the start of February, and midfielder Britton this week signed a three-year deal of his own.

And the 29-year-old said he did not need to ask his manager for a reassurance that he would be staying with the club, such is his confidence that the Northern Irishman will remain at the Liberty Stadium.

He said: 'It's natural when a team does well the manager will be linked with other clubs, and players will be touted to go here, there and everywhere.

'For me the big thing in signing the new contract was the manager being part of the club, as we have seen what he has done in just under two seasons.

'He has improved us as a team and as individuals and this is the place to be if you want to improve as a player.

'He has just signed a new contract so I don't need to ask him his plans for the future, he signed a new contract and that shows he is committed to the club, he has been brilliant and he will want to keep improving the team.'

Britton's outstanding form this season has won him many plaudits and he has been tipped for an England call-up.

The former West Ham man's pass completion record of 92% has seen him bracketed with the likes of Barcelona duo Andres Iniesta and Xavi, but Britton is typically modest when asked to assess his season.

'The stats have all come out this season,' he said.

'It's gone well this year, but we have found as a club that in the Premier League stats are thrown at you from all angles and obviously with our style it has been the passing stats.

'But there is no comparison with me and Xavi, you can't mention me in the same bracket.'

The trip to White Hart Lane sees Britton goes up against Redknapp, the man who signed him from Arsenal for 400,000 when he was just 16.

Offer: Brendan Rodgers could be given the chance to move to Spurs

Offer: Brendan Rodgers could be given the chance to move to Spurs

Britton never made the step up to the first team at Upton Park, but says he will always be grateful to Redknapp for taking a 'gamble' on him.

He said: 'He took me to West Ham at 16 and took a gamble on me, they paid a lot of money for me although I didn't work with him as much because I never made the breakthrough to the first team.

'But he showed faith with me. When we used to play reserve games or Youth Cup games and he would be watching he could come in to the dressing room at half-time and you noticed his man management, it was like he was untouchable.

'He would say things like 'give the ball to the little man he is running the game today', and if the first team manager is saying that it makes you feel 10 feet tall.

'I didn't work with him so much as I didn't make first team breakthrough but he is a great manager and I can definitely say that I am miles better as a player at 29 than the 17-year-old I was at West Ham.'

Liverpool want Swansea pair Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair

Liverpool plot double raid of Swansea with Allen and Sinclair in Dalglish's sights

Swansea are bracing themselves for a double raid from Liverpool with Kenny Dalglish keen on Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen.

Brendan Rodgers' pass masters have been a revelation in the Premier League this season, with several of those who shone in the Championship making a seamless transition into the top flight.

Chief to that has been Allen, who's sensible use of the ball has seen him record the highest pass completion rate of anyone in Europe's big leagues – beating the likes of Barcelona duo Xavi and Andreas Iniesta.

In demand: Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen are both on Liverpool's radar

In demand: Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen are both on Liverpool's radar

In demand: Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen are both on Liverpool's radar

The 21-year-old Wales international has been with the Swans since he was nine and signed a new deal with the club at the start of their first Premier League season.

Manager Rodgers is desperate to keep hold of the core of his team and Liverpool are understood to be biding their time over a move for Allen.

The same can't be said for Sinclair with the Reds already tabling a 5million bid for the player.

The former Chelsea man's pace has been one of the most devastating aspects of Swansea's rise into the top half of the table, and he, like Allen, fit the young British mould favoured by Dalglish.

Sinclair has proved himself capable of coping at the highest level, too, showing a cool head of penalty duty, most recently against Arsenal.